Down a short distance from Harrison, a little south and east sits our neighbor, Hooven, where Ohio 128 and U.S. 50 intersect, each paralleling the Great Miami River and the Ohio River respectively.
At this location, many of us can remember what was called “The Gulf.”
Gulf Oil constructed a petrochemical refinery at this site, operating from 1931 until 1985. Many residents from Harrison were employed at “The Gulf.”
Well, this location once had a totally different tenant. From 1906 until approximately 1913 or so, a horseshoe factory existed there.
On this Hooven site in 1906, “The Cincinnati Horseshoe and Iron Company” was constructed and was incorporated in 1907, with the capital stock of $200,000.
The Horseshoe Factory had a telegraph address of Cincinnati, Ohio, which would be the equivalent to today’s e-mail address possibly, email@example.com.
This factory produced iron, steel horseshoes, bars, and mule shoes. Annual production was approximately 9000 tons of bars and 180,000 kegs of shoes.
Yes, 180,000 kegs, that is a lot of clippy – clop. A keg, is similar to a small wooden barrel and is made by a cooper, used to transport items such as nails, gunpowder, etc.
The horseshoe factory did not have a very long or profitable life. In 1913, there was a fire in the coal fired furnace that basically stopped the smelting production of iron bars and horseshoes at this Hooven location.
Additionally, Henry Ford created a little problem for them on the demand side of their business model.
Henry introduced to America the automobile in the early 1900’s with the biggest success being the model T, starting production in 1908.
These automobiles or “horseless carriages,” obviously did not require any horseshoes but ran on rubber tires. The demand for horseshoes from the Hooven factory was replaced by rubber tires supplied by Harvey Firestone for the “Horseless Carriage”.
This 250-acre site, previous home of the Horseshoe Factory and the “The Gulf” has been undergoing an extensive environmental cleanup since 1986.
This clean-up operation is beginning to come to fruition and hopefully someday soon this land can be returned back to the community to enjoy without worrying about any environmental hazards.
I do have one embarrassing story to tell on myself concerning “The Gulf.” One night, I was returning home from cruising at Frisch’s in Harrison, as we all did as teenagers back then in the 1960s.
I pulled into my drive and saw the sky to the southeast being lit up by some huge orange unknown source. What was going on? I ran into the house got my dad out of bed and said, “There is a huge fire, look out the window!” I somehow convinced him to get out of bed, put on some pants, and hop into my 1950 Plymouth.
We were off to save the world. Dad and I were flying up 52 towards Blue Jay chasing that huge orange sky, “Did the Russians drop an atomic bomb on us? I asked.
As we approached the crest of the hill in Blue Jay, we both looked over to the Hooven area and you would never guess what we saw. It was that damn eternal flame from “The Gulf” burning off the excess gases from the distillation process as they had done every day, 24 hours a day for several years.
Needless to say my dad was not very happy, and all he said was “Nobody is that stupid”. I’m not sure if he was talking about me or him, letting me drag him out of bed to go on a wild goose chase.
Terry Viel is an avid Harrison history buff who collects and restores vintage Harrison photographs.